The Hillsdale Community Library will hold an open house to welcome its new director, Bryonna Barton, next Thursday Dec. 9 from 4 – 6 p.m. The event will include snacks, drinks, and a grand prize drawing for a “Welcome to Hillsdale” gift basket, along with drawings for other gift cards to local businesses.
The Library Board will meet immediately following the event, and the meeting is open to the public.
Barton, a Lansing native, started her new role on Nov. 22, but has worked in various libraries since the age of 16. Barton said she already feels welcomed by the library staff and the greater Hillsdale community.
“The staff is awesome. They’re very friendly,” she said. “The community’s really welcoming. It’s been a fun, easy transition.”
Barton said she is looking forward to the open house event, which will offer refreshments and gift drawings, along with calendars and fliers introducing library staff.
“We’ll have a ‘Meet the Librarians’ newsletter so everyone can get to know us better with more background,” Barton said. “And we’ll potentially have one to meet the library board as well, because we do have spots to fill on our board.”
Marta Roberts, a Hillsdale native who started as the new children’s librarian in August, said she has also had a good transition to the library.
“This is my first time working in a library, but I’ve always loved kids. I used to be a nanny for three or four families and loved that,” Roberts said. “I started the arts and crafts club, which is a lot of fun and kids like it. So we’re trying to get more crafty and hands-on programs now.”
Roberts said she hopes to see an uptick in children and teenagers visiting the library as new programs begin.
“The adult numbers are pretty steady, but we don’t see a whole lot of pre-teens and teens right now,” Roberts said. “There were quite a few kids who used to come after school to hang out and that’s not happening as much.”
According to Roberts, the Lego club is the main area she’s seen an increase in attendance in recent months.
“For the Lego Club, which is the first Tuesday of the month, there’s been a lot more kids. I think we had seven the first club and then the last club we had almost 20 kids come. So it’s been a good influx.”
Barton hopes to increase engagement for all ages by increasing awareness about all the programs the library offers, she said.
“Libraries are more than just books and reading programs. We have resources to help with schoolwork, but we also have programs that are not necessarily education based or school oriented or reading oriented,” Barton said.
While still holding educational events, a goal for upcoming months is to create a space where people can come in to catch a break from the stress of school or work, according to Barton.
“My hope moving forward is we implement more non-school oriented events where kids can come in, destress, have fun, and kind of forget the workload for a little bit.”